Category Archives: Renewable Energy

May 8, 2007 – Costello ducks and weaves about Ken Henry’s advice on emissions trading…

The climate debate was getting very hot in early 2007 in Australia.  Gore had come and gone, Stern was about, the drought went on, and Kevin Rudd was yapping… at everyone’s heels.  So, the thorny question of what advice had the Howard government previously ignored about climate change was one that could not be answered straightforwardly without incurring some political damage (and there was an election pending…).  It is in this context that the repeated refusal of Treasurer Peter Costello to give simple answers to an ABC reporter on the question of when Treasury Secretary Ken Henry had pushed for an emissions trading scheme (Costello knew full-well – he’d been part of the group that had tried to get it through in July-August 2003, only to be personally vetoed by Honest John Howard).

Also on this day-

Cox, G. 2001. Overheating Australia needs ‘wake-up call’. IOL 8 May.

Canberra – Pressure mounted on the Australian government on Tuesday to resume international climate change talks after a report by a government agency foreshadowed a dramatic surge in temperatures in the next 70 years.

Australia’s key government research organisation, the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), predicted a drier and hotter Australia, with average temperatures rising by up to six percent by 2070.

“Rising concentrations of greenhouse gases are the culprit,” head of CSIRO’s atmospheric research group Peter Whetton said in a statement.

2015 New and reduced Renewable Energy Target released: The RET is announced as 33,000 gigawatt hours, or 23.5%, of the estimated electricity generation for 2020.

April 27, 2010 – Lenore Taylor breaks CPRS cancellation, breaks Rudd

On this day in 2010 it all came unstuck for Kevin Rudd. He had bludgeoned John Howard to a pulp on various issues (anyone remember the Australian Wheat Board?) and one of the biggies was ‘the great moral challenge’ of climate change.  He then had spent two years promulgating a fantastically complicated and horribly named ‘Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme’ which nobody liked or understood.  After Tony Abbott defeated Malcolm Turnbull for the leadership of the Liberal Party on 1st December 2009, consensus on carbon pricing died.  After the Copenhagen debacle, Rudd was urged to fight a double dissolution election.  He flubbed it and threw himself instead into campaigning on the Australian health care system.  And on April 27th 2010, following a front page scoop by the estimable Lenore Taylor about how the CPRS was being kicked into the long grass until after the 2013 election.  it all came unstuck at a hospital.

K Rudd (Prime Minister), Transcript of doorstop interview: Nepean Hospital, Penrith: health and hospital reform; Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme; Home Insulation Program, media release, 27 April 2010.

Two good quotes, the first from Paul Kelly’s ‘Triumph and Demise’

Rudd’s problem, however, was not just the decision but the manner of its release. The story was broken by Lenore Taylor in the Sydney Morning Herald on 27 April when she reported that the ETS had been shelved ‘for at least three years’. The leak to Taylor was devastating. Rudd was taken by surprise and left without an explanation. ‘It was a very damaging leak and hard to retrieve, ‘ Wong said. ‘It derailed our government’, Martin Ferguson said.
(Kelly, 2014:292)

And the second from a later piece by Taylor herself.

It was the decision that seemed to snap voters’ faith in Kevin Rudd. Perhaps a final straw. Straight after the government announced it was deferring an emissions trading scheme until 2013, graphs of the Prime Minister’s satisfaction rating looked like a rock falling off a cliff. Labor’s primary vote tumbled after it. The kitchen cabinet was scheduled to meet on April 27 to decide exactly how to explain the delay, and the conditions under which the government would pledge that the ETS policy would be revived.

News of the decision had also filtered through to a few members of the broader cabinet, who had determined to try to wind it back when cabinet met to “ratify” the budget on April 29. But on the morning of April 27, the Herald disclosed the decision to remove the scheme from the budget in a front page article entitled “ETS off the agenda until late next term”. It was the first many ministers and senior public servants had heard of it.
Knowing the back story helps explain why the government’s response on that day was so confused.
Taylor, L. 2010. Decision that shattered faith in PM. Sydney Morning Herald, 5 June, p.2

Also on this day

1999 The high-level Greenhouse Energy Group will today receive the final report of the task force set up by the Federal Government to devise ways to meet its target of a 2 per cent increase in the use of renewable energy over the next decade.

Hordern, N. 1999. Greenhouse targets study ready. Australian Financial Review, 27 April, p. 11.

2001 Washington has mounted a diplomatic campaign to deflect criticism of its repudiation of the Kyoto Protocol, instead seeking support for its goal of broadening the UN climate change treaty to include developing countries.

And Canberra is Washington’s prize recruit in this campaign.

Asked in Wednesday’s Washington Post which countries backed him on greenhouse, President George Bush said “Australia [and Canada] said they understand why the US took this position”.

Hordern, N. 2001. Bush wary of `kiss of death’ for backers in protocol pact. Australian Financial Review, 27 April, p.30.

 

2001 – “However, the Canadian government has criticised the US for pulling out of the Kyoto process. Only Australia has provided uncritical support and is therefore Washington’s “prize recruit” in its campaign to kill the Kyoto Protocol, according to a report in the April 27 Australian Financial Review.” [I think this is from a Green Left Weekly article]

April 7, 2010 – “50 nukes” plea for Australia

Nuclear Power, eh? Always about to be too cheap to meter, always on the cusp of this Amazing Technological Breakthrough. Such Promethean dreams, we had… In Australia, thanks to the low population etc etc nuclear never made much sense (there were abortive efforts of various pollies (prime ministers and premiers), but the numbers just never made sense. Nuclear proponents argued for it in thelate 80s, and in 2006 Prime Minister John Howard threw that particular dead cat onto the table as climate change concerns began to bite at his heels. The issue keeps popping up, of course. And so it did on this day seven very very long years ago-

NUCLEAR advocate Ziggy Switkowski has said an Australia powered by up to 50 nuclear plants would pose little risk of an environmental disaster such as this week’s threatened oil spill on the Great Barrier Reef.

Dr Switkowski, chairman of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, said Australia should build 50 nuclear power stations by 2050, doubling the number he suggested to the Howard government in a key report three and a half years ago.
Kelly, J. 2010. Ziggy Switkowski calls for 50 nuclear reactors in Australia by 2050. The Australian, 7 April.

Also on this day

On 7 April [2006], two days after the Bald Hills decision [of Ian Campbell], Neil Mitchell of 3AW put the Prime Minister on the spot in relation to a housing project west of Melbourne at Melton, saying ‘there’s a $400 million development out there at risk’ because of the elusive and endangered grassland-dwelling Golden Sun Moth. The Prime Minister was unaware of the moth. Still he promised ‘I will investigate that’. Other stories queried whether the endangered red-tailed black cockatoo would ‘sink a $650 million pulpmill’ in SA, and whether the little known flatback turtle would continue to raise an issue for Chevron’s $11 billion Gorgon gas project off the northwest coast of Western Australia.
(Prest, 2007: 253)

7 April 2011: Grattan Institute issues comprehensive analysis of alternative emissions reduction policies and considers you would need to announce a grant tendering scheme of around $100 billion to meet the 5 per cent target.

April 5,2006 – The orange-bellied parrot versus the wind farm…

On this day 11 years ago the then Environment Minister Ian Campbell rejected  the $220m 52-turbine  ‘Bald Hills’ Victorian wind farm which passed all planning hurdles.  James Prest, in an excellent edited volume called ‘Climate Law in Australia’ takes up the story.

Senator Campbell held a media conference in his home town of Perth to publicly announce the refusal of the Bald Hills wind farm. This was an unusual step in decision-making under the EPBC Act. The maximum publicity most EPBC decisions receive is a silent announcement on the departmental website. Campbell said:
I’ve announced this morning that I have decided not to approve the Bald Hills wind farm in Victoria. I have done so on the basis that the report commissioned by my department has said that the Orange-bellied Parrot, which is threatened and is in a very precarious situation as a species, can’t really stand any further potential impacts. The wind farm proposed could have such an impact and hasten the extinction of that species.
(Prest, 2007: 232)

This was complete tosh, and the decision was later overturned. Campbell did not last much longer in his job…  All part of the unrelenting hostility to renewables, eh?

See also: Hogan, J. 2006. Fury over wind farm decision. The Age, 5 April.

and http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2006/s1610250.htm

 

Also on this day – 

2005  COAL21’s first conference

2011 Greenhouse 2011 in Cairns, with a speech by Greg Combet

2011 exp-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd defending himself on climate change policy on ABC TV’s Monday night “Q&A”. See Bob Carr on this– Carr argues Rudd could have used GGAS model after Turnbull was overthrown and the CPRS therefore stuffed…

1st April, 2001: Howard sends mash-note to Bush over dumping Kyoto.

In March 2001, President George’ hanging chad’ Bush had pulled America out of the Kyoto Protocol ratification process, citing the ‘national interest’ (sound familiar?).  This was music to the ears of Australian Prime Minister John Howard.  Although Australia had wangled a sweet sweet deal at Kyoto (a 108% ‘reduction’ target and a land-clearing clause that was an enormous undeserved loophole, as early as September 1998 the Aussies had said they weren’t going to ratify unless Uncle Sam did so first.  Well…

Howard wrote

I have long shared your view, and Australia has consistently argued, that a workable international framework to address climate change needs to be economically manageable and include developing countries, whose emissions will exceed those of OECD countries within this decade.

In my view an effective global framework to address climate change needs to include commitments from all major emitters; unrestricted market-based mechanisms, including emissions trading; an approach to carbon sinks that captures both economic and environmental opportunities; a facilitative, rather than punitive, compliance system; and assistance for the most vulnerable countries to adapt to climate change.

This will require that we engage developing countries, and seek firm commitments from them on future annual emissions. We will also need to encourage the European Union to re-think its opposition to market mechanisms and sinks, key issues for a cost-effective response to climate change.32

Source – Letter from Prime Minister John Howard to United States President George W. Bush, see http://www.lavoisier.com.au/papers/articles/Howardletter.html [dead link] Cited in NSW Parliamentary Library thing, 2002 – The Greenhouse Effect and Climate Change: An Update By Stewart Smith

Further info-

Clennell, A. 2001. Lead The World On Greenhouse Treaty, PM Urges Bush. Sydney Morning Herald, 16 April. p.2.  (which says that then Environment MinisterRobert Hill revealed letter’s existence on 15 April.  “Greens Senator Bob Brown said yesterday the letter was mostly a public relations exercise for “domestic consumption”.”

On the same day Labor’s Lindsey Tanner, later to be one of Kevin Rudd’s Gang of Four gave a speech…  According to Margo Kingston –

In a speech yesterday, Tanner opined that middle class voters of both hues cared about the environment. “If Labor allows the distinction between the Greens and the Coalition to become the dominant point of environmental differentiation in Australian politics, we will lose a major advantage over the Liberal and National Parties,” he said.

Tanner was concerned that the government would slip through the environment net through advertising glossing over its record. The big one going now is TV celebrity Don Burke extolling the Coalition’s Greenhouse credentials. Funny that, since most of the cash comes courtesy of the Democrats, who insisted on real money going into alternative energy research and rail as part of its price for supporting the GST. The Democrats got $400 million in extra funding for greenhouse gas projects over four years. In retrospect, lucky for the Coalition.

Kingston, M. 2001. Australia: green enough for Kyoto? Sydney Morning Herald, 2 April.

Also on this day –

2002 MRET in Australia 1st Mandatory Renewable Energy Target established (following speech by Howard just before Kyoto)  (on the 2% to 0% target shenanigans – see Kent and Mercer 2006…)

2009- 

The New South Wales Government has questioned the impartiality of a top-level Commonwealth adviser after he raised concerns about a planned expansion of Newcastle’s coal facilities.

Infrastructure Australia Advisory Board member Professor Peter Newman says the damage caused by coal will increase dramatically if Newcastle’s port facilities are doubled.

ABC. 2009. Anger at Rudd’s adviser over coal comments. ABC, 1 April.